The district of Alappuzha, also known as Alleppey, is in Kerala. This district headquarters is also known as Alappuzha and is located 70 kilometres south of Cochin. The Kerala backwaters are a chain of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast of Kerala state in southern India. The network includes five large lakes linked by canals, both manmade and natural, fed by 38 rivers, and extending virtually half the length of Kerala state. The backwaters were formed by the action of waves and shore currents creating low barrier islands across the mouths of the many rivers flowing down from the Western Ghats range.
The Sri Krishna Temple at Ambalapuzha, 14 km from Alleppey is among Kerala's more famous ones boasting of the typical temple architectural style of the State. The name Ambalapuzha came into existence only after the construction of the present Sri Krishna Swami Temple in the 16th century by Pooradam Thirunal Thampuran. It is one among the main five Krishna temples in Kerala. It is equally famed for its palpayasam -a sweet milk porridge offered to the diety. The beautiful temple was built in 800 A.D. and the best of the workers were called to design the architecture of the temple. An deities of Sri Krishna in black granite stone was carved out for installation.
The temple's main festival occurs in March/April. It was in this temple that the 16th century poet Kunjan Nambiar staged his first Ottan Thullal, a solo dance performance with high social content.
Velakali is a group dance held in the open air as an exhibition of the martial feats in front of the raja (king) of Ambalapuzha (Chempakassery), who wanted to see how his soldiers had performed in the wars. Now "Ambalapuzha Velakali" is performed every year inside the temple premise during the March–April 10 festival days except on the first and last days.
The Krishna Deites at Ambalapuzha is likened to Parthasarthi with a whip in the right hand and a Shankhu (sacred conch) in the left. This temple is directly associated to the Guruvayoor Sri Krishna Temple. During the raids of Tipu Sultan in 1789, the deites of Sri Krishna from the Guruvayoor Temple was brought to the Ambalappuzha Temple for safe keeping.